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GREENWOOD Dist.–At 34 years old, Amnoni Myers is an entrepreneur, a community leader, and a new author. Yet for the once homeless Boston-born resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it’s a life she didn’t always believe was possible.

“I grew up in the foster care system, one of the systems overrepresented with Black and brown youth. I entered into the system when I was born,” Myers told The Black Wall Street Times.

In honor of National Foster Care Month, the Tulsa transplant organized a fashion show that benefits homeless young people in the foster care system. Sponsored by Black Queer Tulsa and Builders + Backers, The Threads of Change fashion show takes place on Friday, May 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Dennis R. Neil Equality Center in downtown Tulsa.

To purchase tickets, visit their website.

Myers just released her first book, “You Are the Prize,” in March of 2022, but her journey to self-discovery began at the age of 12.

“I knew that I had a lot to say then, but it was overwhelming,” Myers told The Black Wall Street Times.

The fashion show comes weeks after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt disbanded the statewide homelessness council.

“Every state has this council. Oklahoma will be the only state without a council. It doesn’t make any sense,” Chief Housing Officer for the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma Greg Shin told The Black Wall Street Times in April.

Using trauma to heal a new generation of foster care youth

Myers was a product of the brutal crack epidemic, which ravaged Black communities with nothing but a punitive response from the federal government. She was abandoned at the hospital at birth. At six months old, Myers’ she was given a kinship placement with her great aunt, who took care of her until the age of 10.

By then, her mother came back into her life and took custody of her until the age of 12. She would spend the rest of her teen years in the foster care system.

As a Black and queer youth in the system, Myers often found few culturally-affirming resources for her. In an environment where she was often told she’d amount to nothing, it was the kind words from her younger sister that inspired her journey.

 “Lost my little sister. She was failed by the system. She was trafficked out of the system,” Myers said.

Yet before her little sister passed away, she encouraged Myers to see the beauty in her own potential. “Sis, remember you are the prize,” she told Myers.

Years later, “I honored and dedicated my book to her and every young person whose encountered the system,” Myers said.

From homeless to the White House

A moment of serenity came when Myers joined the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in her early 20s. She wrote a policy report about the importance of training foster parents and caregivers on trauma-informed techniques. Her work landed her a coveted internship in President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle’s White House.

“I grew up being told I wasn’t gonna be anything. I grew up with a learning disability. To have that come back full circle, to not only intern but to introduce the First Lady Michelle Obama on national TV, was an experience,” Myers said.

Threads of Change fashion show provides a home for homeless youth

Along with food, merchandise, and giveaways, the Threads of Change fashion show will boast Tulsa talent and models rocking gear from local small businesses.

At the fashion show, Myers will also release the hard cover of the book, hoping to inspire scores of homeless youth today.

“Working on an audio book now. Also pivoting into the tech space. Working on building an app for young people in the foster system,” Myers said.

A sneaker raffle will be available, and ticket sales will go toward programs at Youth Services of Tulsa, home to the largest youth shelter in Oklahoma. Focused on self-care, the event will also feature aromatherapy from Jamar Torres’s Live Aromatherapy Workshop.

“LVDR is influenced by the Black American and Caribbean experience of bridging the connection between self-care, spiritualism, and community,” according to a description of the event.

“I’m super excited,” said Myers, who is eager to tap into her creative side. “I wasn’t allowed to play sports or sleep over at friends” while in foster care.

A fashion show supporting homeless youth in the foster care system. (Amnoni Myers / Instagram)

Bridging the gap in community

Despite being abandoned at birth, Myers was able to reconnect with her mother, learning to better understand what she went through.

“I feel like the foster care system forces you to trust strangers and make you believe they’re more supportive than your actual community,” Myers said.

She wants to give young people in the system the opportunity to see themselves in a way she was never able to envision for herself as a child.

“I want them to see hope; I want them to experience light. I want them to experience themselves in the show,” Myers said. “Through all the things they’ve experienced, to know that they are the prize. Don’t get so hung up on ‘I haven’t made it yet’, but know that healing is a life-long journey. It really takes time to heal from the wounds that can easily turn into scars.”

For at least a few hours, Myers is determined to take homeless youth out of survival mode and into the spirit of what Michelle Obama describes as “becoming.”

“Your trauma doesn’t have to define you. It can also be utilized to effect change,” Myers said.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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